tv Overheard With Evan Smith PBS February 29, 2012 5:00am-5:30am PST
>> funding for overheard with evan smith is provided texas government affairs consultancy and its global health care consulting business unit, hillco health. and by the mattson mchale foundation in support of public television. and also by mfi foundation, improving the quality of life within our community. and also by the alice kleberg reynolds foundation and viewers like you. thank you. he's an admired and accomplished american fiction writer whose credits include affliction and the sweet hereafter - which, not insignificantly, were made into pretty terrific movies. his twelfth novel, lost memory of skin, has just been published. he's russell bankk. thhs is overheard. >> smith: russell anks,
welcome. >> banks: thank you, evan. >> smith: very nice to have you here and congratulationss3 on the book. >> banks: thank you. >> smith: although this is old hat for you at this point to ttke around a new book. you are a.you've got a lot of experience of, of -- of, promoting. >> banks: yeah. >> smith: .and talking about it and all that and i wonder if you get tired of it. >> banks::no it doesn't happen but once every three or four years anyhow so it -- it doesn't get repetitious or annthiig for me. and of course with each book there's a whole differrnt way of talking about it, of thinking about it and -- and wwen a book is, you know, is published it's the first
time that i as a writer have to kind of transfer myself out of my identity as the writer and my relation to the book. >> smith: right. >> banks: .entirely as, as someone inside it um and, and begin to see it for the first time as a reader because i don't really consider the readers, the audience, while i'm writing the book, i'm really writing it for myself. i mean, an audience of one, just for myself. >> smith: isn't that interesting? so you don't actually imagine, well, i know that this is interesting to me to anybody else? you just put it out there. >> banks: no, i can't. i have to put that out of. >> smith: yeah. >> baaks: .out of any consideration. >> smith: i'm heartened by that,,to know that it's art for you and not commerce. >> banks: well, no it can't be commerce. >> smith: yeah. -ú>> banks: .and for so many years it -- it certainly had no [chuckles], no response whatsoever. >> smith: nothing >> bankss .you know that.of that, of that possibility. >> smith: eah, yeah. >> banks: but, but no i think, i think what a lot of people don't realize s that um, and i think what i'm saying is true for most -- certainly most serious fiction writers s, is that i'm, i'm really writing this book in order to understand something in the world that i can't really understand or
some person or a type of person that i can't understand without the aid oo the the tradition and the apparatus and the.and the, the craft of fiction. >> smith: yeah. >> banks: .to, to, to make it comprehensible to me in the form of a story. >> smith: you're working this out for yourself basically, yeah. >> banks::exactly, exactly and then when the book is it's become the public property in a sense and.ann my.and i'm in a way.i'm a well-informed reader in.of, of the book but the.i have to change hats almost, you know. >> smith: yeah. >> banks: .the coming out of the.blinking out of my cave after three or four years they were in the darkness and hen i come out into the bright lights and and look at it differentll. i begin to say what is going on in there and, you know, and ask the same kind of questions that, that -- that readers are asking. >> smith: i think it's interesting that you say the readers are not.either, either they're secondary or they're not a consideration at all as you're writing the book because the material -úthat you tend to, to embrace in the course of these books is daaker than not. >> banks: mm-hm, mm-hm. >> smith: this, this book is. >> banks: but that's maybe
as a result of my not [chuckles]. >> smith: well, maybe so. >> banks: .worrying too much about the readers. >> smith: but it.i, i think it's evidence maybe that you don't consider it because you know for.there, there will be people for whom this úook is, is difficult to enter, right? this is a tough subject. >> banks: right, right. >> smith: the protagonist in this book is a 22-year-old registered sex offender. >> banks: mm-hm. >> smith: .who is required to live uh at least 2,500 feet from anybody 18 or under as a consequence of this transgression. >> banks: mm-hm. >> smith: .which is itself less of a transgression than you imagine when somebody is branded a sex offender. and the character is presented somewhat sympathetically despite all that and that in and of itself is a hard thing for a lot of average readers i would say toogo, well, boy, i want to read about a sex offender for all these. >> banks: yeah right, well it's a taboo subject almost. >> smith: it is. >> banks: and, and -- >> smith: and maybe one of the reasons that it was attractive to you to write about. >> banks: well, also it's a mysterious subject to me. ssith: yeah. >> banks: and, and one that i, i, i really didn't have any insight into to bbgin with. its, its originssare very specific and clear for me. i mean, i, i spend half the
year in miami beach, i have an apartment down there, and the other half in upstate new york. but about four years ago articles started appearing in the local press own there about a colony of, of convicted sex offenders who were required to live 2,500 feet away from wherever children might reside or, or gather, as you said, which meant they essentially couldn't live anywhere in the city except under this causeway or at terminal g t the international airport which wasn't permitted or out at the eastern end of they had to stay within the county.. >> smith: yeah. >> banks: and, and somewhere in the county. so anyhow, they ended up underneath this causeway terrace. i could look out and see this causeway, it coonects barrier islands. >> smiihh yeah. >> banks: .miami beach. and.and i started imagining what it must be like under that bridge, the trolls
under the bridge where you had living side-by-side in these little huts and camps and, and, and, and -- and tents and, and, and shacks, you know, serial rapists who were violent next to some poor old drunk or drug addict who had stumbled his way into, youuknow, breaking an indecent exposure regulation. >> smith: yeah. >> banks: .or a kid who might have had -- you know, over 21 who might have had sex with his high school girlfriend 16 or 17 and got arrested for statutory rape. >> smith: different, different degrees of offense. >> banks: right. >> smith: right. >> banns: well, i mean we, we, we make these distinctioos when we're sentencing so, you know, a kid like -- like the id here might -- might end up spending three months in jail whereas someone else might spend five to seven years in jail. but they''e.once they're released they're.they are lumped together and in our imagination they are lumped together. >> smith: right. >> banks: .not just legally.. >> smith: right. >> banks: .and not just civically. and, and that's going back to your question is saaing that -- yes, i.it's a taboo subject because we lump them >> smith: yep.
>> banks: and we require them uh alike to wear anklets with the gps units attached. >> smith: mm-hm. >> banks: .so they're under permanent ongoing surveillance and the terms same, so there they are their relation to the larger society is essentially the same regardless of the degree of their offense. >> smith: and i'm inclined what's going on in that little worrd, but really it's more accurate that we'd rather not think about it at all. >> banks: well, that's.that's, that's really the case. i mean, it's, it's a subject that i certainly hadn't thought about much. >> smith: right. >> banks: .at all until i was looking out on the causeway and reading the paper and looking up and saying, oh my god, that's right over there. >> smith: and did this little subculture jump out at you from the page or jump out at you from the terrace -úview and preseet itself as the subject of a book or did you have to get there? how.how's.i'm curious to know at what point you knew thii was the material for the book. >> banks: yeah, i didn't know it was -- i was going to write a novel about it certainly or anything for that maater. i was just curious and, and, and mystified and, and drawn
to the irony of the sittation, the absurdity of the situation and the unintended consequences of good intentions. i mean, that's a.a subject. >> smith: right. >> banks: .that draws me, has drawn me in the past. >> smith: yeah. was again in.only in a particularly strange way for me. and so i think i was drawn first to this, the image of a kid, a loser kid, a kkd.the kind of kid there are millions of them out there who, who manages somehow to raise himself. -úi mean, at, at one point he's referred to as a feral child, the kind of kid we used to call latchkey kids. >> smith: yeah. >> banks: the single parent who goes to work in the mornings, usually the mother, and comes home goes out at night just forn her own entertainment and. >> smith: kids basically not -úpareeted right? >> banks: .exactty. and, and ends up, you know, the kid ends up basically living in the ether on the internet. >> smith: yeah. >> banks: .and, and, and that's his essential connection to other human beings, a kid who gets all the way through school and is barely literate, has no skill set. >> smith: right. >> banks: .that will allow
him to get control of his life in any way, so he's marginalized from the age of however, 11 or 12 oo whenever on. so i just imagined a kid like that ending up down there very easily. >> smith: yeah. >> banks: .you know, like you know my dumb cousin or, or, or, you know, the son of someone down the block that i know or you know. it could anybody. >> smith::and, and, and that desiination, a sex offender. >> banks: yeah. >> smith: .is, is one that you can't really escape. >> banks: no, you wear it, it's a literal ankleeral;& bracelet. >> banks: that and you're on the internet -- >> smith: yeah. >> banks: you're, you're on, on the registry of convicted sex offenders, yeah. >> smith: welll and the act that the book begins with.. >> banks: right. >> smith: .the, the, the kid wanting to look on the computer to see am i really listed. >> banks: is it really true? ll.lis.listing of registered sex offenders? >> banks: and indeed there he is, his face is. >> smith: did you have the opportun..-i think i know the answer to this, but i want you to talkkabout this process portion of this, did, did you have the opportunity to go down to that encampment. >> banks: oh yeah. >> smith: .and learn about that.and essentially based the world that you ppesent here on the reality of the
world that you saw there? >> banks: yes, i did. i mean, i could walk over, it was a very simple matter, and i did and spent some time down there. but i, i, i went as a novelist who wassbecoming increasingly curious about this. >> smith: yeah.& >> banks: .world and, and, and caught up in it, not like an investigative journalist or not like a sociologist or, or, or a historian or a psychiatrist or anything of the sort. um, so what i wanted to know um was what does it look like you know, what's it llke down there? is it ddrk? is there you know is it really grim or what does ii smell like with all these men living in close quarters. >> smith: right. >> banks: .with no sanitary uh facilities or, or, or anything? what's it sound like with3 the sound of, f the rumble of traffic overhead 24 hours a day? >> smith: yeah. >> banks: the sensual details of it, i. is what i wanted. >> smith: it just sounds bar.it sounds barbaric and i realize that many of the people in these encampments are convicted f very serious offenses. >> banks: that's right. >> smith: .-nd they deserve the punishment that they get. >> banks: that's right.
>> smith: .but it sounds, nonetheless, almost worse than being in jail. ú> banks: oh, i think in some ways it is because it, it, it's sort of endless. >> smith: well, freedom is a technicality. >> banks: yeah, yeah. reality is as.as a practical matter they're not free. >> banks: no they're not free. >> smith: yeah. >> banks: no. >> smith::and, and they can't make lives for themselves that would allow themselves to be freer. i mean you have to imagine you know. >> banks: no. you can't travel, you can't go anywhere. i mean, many of them have jobs and are moving around. interestingly, once it became sort of public knowledge and it was in tte newspapers, a couple off3 journalists got a hold of it and then, then some public defender type attorneys also tried to, to move -- move this encampment out and, and, and, and, and. >> smith: yeah. >> banks: .alleviate. um they, they closed down the encammment and put up a big chain link fence around it and -- and moved the residents out to the western part of the city into motels and then .that the city was paying for. >> smith: right. >> banks: anddso that worked
for about six or eight weeks until the motel owners started realizing they weren't getting any other business and neighbors started. >> smmth: right. >> banks: .complaining, a sort of "not in my back yardd ituation. so then they moved them further out into a trailer park where they are now living in a trailer park. again, the city's paying for it and the numbers are increasing of course. >> smith: oh! >> banks: .and there's no solution to it. >> smith: there is no solution. >> banks: no. i mean the solution is like remove that reetrictiin, that 2500-foot... >> smith: right, but under the current circumstances. >> banks: no. >> smith: .there is no, there's no solution. >> banks: no, no, no. see, and that's a political hot potato. >> smith: it is. >> banks: nobody's gonna touch that and say i think we should eliminate that. >> smith: right. >> banks: .2500-foot.-3 >> smith: and yet as a novelist, you're perfectly happy to touch it as, as material and, and it. >> banks: right. >> smith: .it really is again, it's a.as the best novell do, it presents a -úsubculture or a world that we'll never have the opportunity to, to experience ourselves and it's very vivid and it's a little frightening. >> banks: well, i think that you know that's.that's the job. >> smith: .and a little -úupsetting. >> banks: .of a storyteller in a way. >> smith: yeah. >> banks: .is, is o take us into the lives of otherr3 human beings that we would normally.who woold normally
be invisible to us. >> smith: yeah. >> banks: .or inaudible to us, we wouldn't hear their voices and we wouldn'ttsee their lives and we wouldn't..- >> smith: right. their lives for various reasons. >> smith: now, you, you said to me that the book was written for you as your books are written for you and not necessarily for us. i assume that you're also not writing them for reviewers. so i wonder whether the fact book, pardon me, has been so well-reviewed, i mean great response to this book. >> banks: mm, mm. >> smith: ..-does that matter? do you care? do you read them? >> banks: well, sure i care. i depend upon the sales f my books for a living [laughs]. >> smith: well, right. so as.as a.as a literal.yeah.yes, i care. >> anks: yeah, i certainly care in that.in regard. i want them to be um liked and. >> smith: but if they would sell well without the critical acclaim would yyu3 be happy to have no critical acclaim? i, i just wonder if the, if the. >> banks: it's hard to say. popular reaction.r, the >> banks: yeah. >> smith: .trumps the, the critical reaction? i think the respect of my peers is very important to me. >> smith: yeah. >> banks: .and, and if i get a letttr from you know writers and other writers and other people, uh intellectuals or whatever, the eople, human beings, doesn't have to be
intellectuals or writers. >> smith: yeah.3 >> banks: .that i admire and, and feel are, are peers um that's very gratifying. the thing about reviews or the critical response to it is i have to ask myself, have i ever really altered a sentence in my entire 50-year writing life because of something a reviewer said, either praise or criticism? >> smith: or criticism, right. >> banks: and i have to say no. >> smith: yeah. >> banks: i.it doess'ttmean it's useless. i'm sure it's useful, but probably not to the writer, i think to the reader maybe. >> smith: yeah. ú> banns: .but not to the writer. >> smith: well, they're transienn and you're still here, right? >> banks: well, yeah [laughs]. >> smith: the, the fact.the fact. >> banks: i guess so, yeah. >> smith: .the fact is you know 50 year later they''e changed. >> banks: yeah. >> smith: .reviewers many times. >> banks: that's right, yeah. >> smith: .and you're still here doing it. you mentioned toome before we came on today that you don't think this will be a movie. >> banks: no, i think, i think the subject matter the .not the subject matter beeause what is it, it's a story of a young man trying.of a boy really, arrestee development, a man stuck in, in dolescence trying to become a good man
and, and that arc is an important one and it's a, it's a narrative arc that i think most would ake pleasure in, in, in seeing unfold. and it's a complicated and a.and a, i hink, interesting and. >> smith: yeah. >> banks: .entertaining even story. the kid is funny. hees got a good sense of humor and is kind of aslant, he looks at everything slightly aslant, nd he is, he is an honest person. and so, so i think that, that, that's all fine and, and good, but the context that surrounds him, social context ttat surrounds him, is one that i don't think i could see on a, on a screen today... >> smith: yeah. >> banks: .not today. maybe. >> smith: not really a crowd pleaser. >> banks: no, buttmaybe 20 years ago or 30 yearssago independent movies were able to handle material like this, but i think you canndo it on television. a gus van sant kind of.. >> banks: it is, it is, yeahh >> smith: i mean, it also would take a certain kind of director. >> banks: exactly. >> smith: but as you say the cable televiiion, the. >> banks: yeah, they could do it, yeah. >> smith: the pay cable networks and even the non.i mean the, the premium. >> banks: right.
>> banks: right.he basic. >> smith: .cable networks are producing some pretty terrific stuff these days. >> banks: sure. >> smith: the experience for you of having past books, i alluded in the introduction to bothhaffliccion and uh the sweet hereafter which were both very successful films, at least from the standpoint of the critical acclaim. you know you had. >> banks: i actually get, i actually get checks [laughs]]3 still from them, yeah. >> smith: .soo so i didn't want to pry, but the point is they've been successful for you, but i think as art . >> banns: yeah, yeah financially too, that's it, yeah. >> smith: .you know they were both recognized as terrific films. the. affliction haa oscar nominations and. >> banks: yeah actually.actually james coburn won the best uh supporting actor, yeah. >> smith: .and james coburn won. you know the, the fact is that both of those films were viewed by the critics and by, you know, cinephiles all over the place as just great. >> banks: yeah, and they're taughttin university film programs and so forth now. >> smith: and as the author of a book made into a film. >> banks: mm-hm. >> smith: .you know it's not always a pleasurable experience. >> banks: no, usually not, yeah. >> smith: you have a lot of when i write the book it's and tten when ittbecomes a movie it'sstheirs. >> banks: yeah. >> smith: you know i.. >> banks: yeah. >> smith: .i distance myself >> banks: yeah. >> smith: .because i didn't do, do that. you felt good about these? >> banks: yeah and, and i did and -- part of it's just3 good luck, the director of
the sweet hereafter, atom egoyan. -ú>> smith: atom egoyan is a fantastic director. >> banks: .and paul schrader who did affliction. >> smitt: right. screenwriter/director, they both brought me into the process frrm the start. >> smith: great. >> banks: .and, and they're, -úthey're auteur filmmakers, both of them. >> smith: yeah. >> banks: .probably the best auteur filmmakers working today out there. >> smith: right. >> banks: and so i got very invooved in it early on and, and, and you know went through eeery draft of the screenplay and went through the casting and went through um the shooting even and, and i, i and. ú> smith: so you were, you were a part? >> banks: i was a very much a part and i sort of got a a úrrsh course in independent film making from. >> smith: yeah. >> banks: .from these two projects and these two directors and all the people associated with them. and so i got, for the first time in my life i said this you know, i like this, you know, i like collaboration. working with other people you can actually make a work of art that's a film. it doesn't have to be as merely a kind of, of a theme park ride. it.
>> smith: yeah. >> banks: .it could be something much more interesting 'cause i always believed that. i'm a -- i'm of a generation that.that came up on, on the great films of the european art films of the 50's and then the american reat films of the 60's and 70's and so here we are, we can do it. so then.since then i've gone on and, and -- and i've, i've written a screenplay for the darling that i'm making with a great director named denis villeneuve, made a wonderful film last year called incendies, and with jessica chastain, and then i'm working. hot actress of the year.he >> banks: i know. >> smith: right? she's in.suddenly she's in every single movie. >> banks: i know it. magnificent in every single, every single one of them. great, great actress, yeah. >> smith: yeah. >> banks: yeah. and them i'm making rule of -úthe bone with debra gganik who's made.last year's big film was winter's bone which was -- >> smith: oh, fantastic, oscar-nominated and much beloved >> banks: yeah, wonderful film, yeah. so i, i but i. >> smith: well, you're, you're working witt great people. -ú>> banks: yeah and i.but that's.that's the whole ey. >> smith: we have about five or six minutes left. i wanna ask you to tell me how you got to be this person.
what, what, what was it at a young age that made you think you wanted to do.do this as opposee to ann number of other things you might have done? >> banks: mm, mm. well, i never had one of those aha moments, i think myself as a writer.. >> smith: yeah.& >> banks: .of, of seriouu literary depressing fiction. [laughter] >> banks: that, that never occurred to me. >> smith: i guess i'm -- i'm comforted to know that. [laughter] >> banks: [laughs] that's good. no, no, originally i, i wanted to be a visual aatist. it was he only observable talent i had... >> smith: you were interested in painting, right? >> banks: yeah. >> smith: yeah. >> banks: and, and it's, it's sort of the.if, if you have some talent and it, it, it -- it manifests itself in an observable way and so people praise you for it and you like the praise so i think i'll.that's what i úant to do, i want to become an artist, a visual artist. and i, and i.when i was 11 years old and i'd, i'd dropped out of college after about six weeks and ran off to -- i hitchhiked down that winter to florida with the intention of joining fidel castro and che guevara and the boys in the sierra maestra to help them
batista.w the dictator don't ask why. -ú>> smith: you were thinking small, obviously right??3 >> banks: it's a long, complicated story. i was 18. >> smith: you're not nearly ambitious enough i think is the problem, right? >> banks: [laughs] 18-years-old and i couldn't speak a word of spanish and didn't.wasn't sure of thh úeography [laughs]. >> smith: yeah, right. otherwise, great idea. >> banks: otherwise i was ready to help. >> smith: yeah. >> banks: .put my shoulder to that wheel and, and i ended up in miami the winter of.february in, in '593 when.-nd they marched into havana and they didn't need me and so the call was abandoned. and so i was working in a department store first and moving furniture in a hotel and painting my pictures, but out of loneliness and boredom i started reading for the first ttme of my life, seriously richer. i mean, i had read what i was supposed to read in high school, what was. >> smith: right. >> banks: .on the sylllbus but i had never really engaged on a personal level the, the, the literature of the world and, and taken it personally. >> smith: so hemingway? >> banks: yeah i started at hemingway, short sentences, hey i can imitate that and i'd start trying to do it, well no it's a little more& complicated than that so >> banks: so hen faulkner,
see -- oh, it's long words and all tangled together and i can do that too. complicated. but i started imitating, like a clever monkey, what i was falling in love with which was literature. >> smith: yeah. >> banks: and after bout two eaas i was shapinn my life around this activity. >> smith: yeah. >> banks: .and then i could ssy well iimust be a writer, this.everything about my life is determined by this activity. >> smith: it's heartening to hear that you wrestled with it, that it didn't come naturally to you because we all assume. >> smith: .that people who've achieved your high level of art over your career, it just was a natural.you, you. >> banks: no. >> smith: .gravitated naturally to it and i think the rest of us feel as clumsy as you described your own emergence as a writer aad it's, it's heartening to me to hear. >> banks: but it grew out of love, you know, it grew out of love of literature and not the love of becoming a writer. >> smith: yeah. ú> banks: i fell in love with the literature first and then the process. >> smith: well, that's better. >> banks: welll yeah, that.if you want to be a writer, yeeh. >> smith: it's absolutely better. have.over these.you alluded to a 50-year career as a, as a writer and indeed it has been that long. >> banks: yeah, i know. understatement to say that -úthings have changed in thooe years. >> banns: mm-hm. >> smith: .that the business has changed, the process of writing has changed and
we're now in an era when we wonder whetter we're going to have tt kill all the publishers and kill all the editors and everyone, every man and woman for hiiself and herself, as far as thh digital platform goes. do, do you look at that new world and think i'm a creature of the old, i'll never be able to move on to ttat new platform or are you excited about the possibilities of what comes next? >> banks: well, i, i am excited about it. i mean, i probably won't live to see it, this revolution complete itself, but it is a revolution and it onny occurs once every3 four or five hundreddyears -úand sometimes every thousand years. the ast one is the inventton of moveable type. >> smith: right. >> banks: .and it's certainly as, as, as revolutionary as that and i think aa, as democratizing a, a process as well. i mean, all this moves in, in delivery systems starting, you know, from the wet clay and stylus to papyrus to. >> smith: right. >> banks: .scrolls to moveable type to the digitalization of, of -- have produced greater, wider audience in a leveler
playing field. >> smith: well, the barriers to entry for aspiring writers, for kids who are in department stores reading hemingway for the first time it, it would be much easier for your you know. banks: yes.& >> smith: .your counterpart today. >> banks: .you're finding your audience, yes. >> smith: .to.well to find.but even to find a venue. >> banks: that's right. >> smith: you creete your own venue. >> banks: exactly, exactly. >> smith: you don't have to get the attention of somebody in new york or wherever else. >> banks: exactly, exactly. well, this is all to the good i think overall. the main thing that i think i try to remember is like, úey, it's only a book, it's only a delivery system, and we've had different delivery systems in the past. so the digitalization of the text is only making it available to another delivery system. >> smith: right >> banks: and what we really are doing hereeis continuing the -- the perpetuation of, and the response to the need úor, story. human beings require storytellers and story nd they always have and the always will, going back to, you know, sitting around a there was one person in the group who was telling stories to the ther people in the group. >> smith: right. >> banks: .so that they could know what it was to be themselves, where their land ended, who lived on the other ide and was going to try to kill them, and this
is basically what forever and thaa's not gonna ccange. >> smitt: that's not gonna& change. >> banks: that's not gonna change at all. uh the delivery system is fine. i.i'm probably.i am a little too old now to. >> smith: right. >> banks: .to plug into itt3 at, at its inception and, and. >> smith: have you resisted the temptation to be on twitter or to be, you know. >> banks: twitter i have resistee. >> smith: .living, living within the uh sort of audio book and e-book or ibook world. >> banks: mm-hm. -ú>> smith: .do you, do you consume any of that stuff yourself? >> banks: yeah, i consume it. ú have a kindle. >> smith: yeah? >> banks: i just spent five weeks on the road and you don't think i wanttd to carry all those books around with me >> smith: i'm sure you did. well, well, right. >> banks: [chuckles] yeah. >> smith: yeah sure.& and you found that to be a pleasurable experience as a reader? fine. it's, it's -- it's as i say just a delivery system. i don't have a problem with you know, i meen, like the physicality of books, i'm& very sentimental about books, i still write in long hand -- >> smith: but of course the úconomics of it is the.is really the thing we're all. >> banks: exactll. >> smith: .wondering about. >> banks: yeah. well that's gonna change. i'm glad i don't run a don't run a publishing company 'cauue that's gonna change. >> smith: right. >> banks: .and, and but from the point of view of the storyteller it's not a >> smith: well, that's a very positive way to think
of it, yeah. >> banks: yeah. >> smith: we have about a minute left. what are you doing next? what's the.what are you working on now? >> banks: i've been making& notes. i'm trying to write a novel, start a novel this fall and different from what.from this one. i'm thinking that i'm old enough now that i can write a novel about obsessive love. i've been madly in love, and i mean madly in the sense of insane, madly in love maybe four times in my life and i. >> smith: yeah. >> banks: .probably won't be agaan so maybe it's time for me to sit down while i still can and try to recapture that madness. >> smith: yeah, well, that seems actually a liitle bit more positive than the last few books you've written so. >> banks: [laughs] [laughttr] >> mith: i'll have to.i'll be looking forward to that one. >> bankks all right, great [laughs]. and a pleasureeto meet you. >> banks: thanks. >> smith: .and i wish you all the great luck with this book, it's a wonderful book. >> banks: thank you evan, thanks. >> smith: russeel banks, thank you very much. [applause]
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garrison keillor: a native of california, kay ryan taught basic english at the college of marin for more than 30 years. appointed united states poet laureate in 2008, she's the author of six books, including the niagara river, flamingo watching and say uncle. she says her poems don't begin with images or sounds
but the way an oyster does, with an aggravation. "turtle." who would be a turtle who could help it? a barely mobile hard roll, a four-oared helmet, she can ill afford the chances she must take in rowing toward the grasses that she eats. her track is graceless, like dragging a packing case places, and almost any slope defeats her modest hopes. even being practical, she's often stuck up to the axle on her way to something edible. with everything optimal, she skirts the ditch which would convert her shell into a serving dish. she lives below luck level, never imagining some lottery will change